GOAL: Forty must read books

As mentioned here and here, I set a goal to come up with 40 must read books that I must read in the next 4 years. Books that I feel I should have read, or reread before I turn 40. I have been working on this list for a while, and talking about it with many of my literary-minded pals. After much debate (and more than a little bit of hand wringing on my part), the list is as final as it’s going to get. Now I just need to get to reading. I have decided to read them alphabetically by title. (Note that the poetry is highlighted  in teal to make it fancy.) I will probably read most of these either used or digitally. (Boy, I might need an iPad for that. :)) HERE IT IS:

  1. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
  2. A Light in August – Faulkner
  3. American Pastoral- Philip Roth
  4. Anna  Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
  5. As I Lay Dying –  William Faulkner
  6. Atonement:  A Novel – Ian McEwan
  7. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
  8. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky
  9. Donald Justice – Collected poems
  10. Elizabeth Bishop – Collected poems
  11. Gilead – Marilynne Robinson
  12. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
  13. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
  14. Human Wishes – Robert Hass
  15. If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller – Italo Calvino
  16. Ironweed – William Kennedy
  17. Jesus’ Son – Denis Johnson
  18. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
  19. Madam Bovary – Gustav Flaubert
  20. Middlemarch – George Eliot
  21. Native Son – Richard Wright
  22. New Addresses – Kenneth Koch
  23. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  24. Runaway – Alice Munro
  25. The  Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera
  26. The Awakening – Kate Chopin
  27. The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood
  28. The Branch Will Not Break – James Wright
  29. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger, J.D
  30. The Collected Stories – Flannery O’Connor
  31. The Collected Stories – John Cheever
  32. The Collected Stories – Saul Bellow
  33. The End of the Affair – Graham Green
  34. The Life of Pi – Yann Martel
  35. The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
  36. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
  37. The Road – Cormac McCarthy
  38. The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
  39. The Sheltering Sky – Paul Bowles
  40. The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway


3 thoughts on “GOAL: Forty must read books

  1. Whoa! That is quite a sobering list. I’m sure they will be great. Of course I have no idea because my taste in literature swings more toward those works that were they to be a given a nutritional value would probably wind up being akin to the equivalent of cheetos and beer for the brain. I am a hopeless cause I know. I think I’ve read only one or two on the whole list Pride & Prejudice & The Sun Also Rises and both were for school 😉

    But in all seriousness why do so many of “the greats” in literature make me feel so depressed after I read them? Maybe it is a conspiracy between the literary community and the alcohol industry. “OK, you fancy pansy artist people. Here is the deal…you guys create and promote ONLY things that drive people to drink and we will supply you with all the alcohol you can handle (until you stop producing). Nothing that will make them feel good mind you ONLY the depressing stuff, got it? Good.” Just a thought…

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